LaShawn Ford, a Democratic state representative serving a large part of Oak Park and the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, is contemplating a run for mayor of Chicago.
Who isn’t? The current tally, in this post-Rahm moment, is 17 contenders for a February Democratic primary. Republicans remain non-consequential in Chicago. A run-off among top Democrats is likely.
Rep. Ford is a long-shot. Despite 10 years in Springfield, he is not well-known and certainly does not have the deep pockets of the Toni Preckwinkles and William Daleys in this race.
That said, Ford has his strengths. Owing perhaps to his long history crossing over representation between Austin and Oak Park, Ford is at ease discussing issues of race and class that leave most pols spouting platitudes. And speaking of crossing over, Ford has made it a mission in Springfield to build friendships and alliances across the two great Illinois divides: Dems and Republicans and city and downstate.
We find Ford plain spoken and common-sense based. That’s why, in 2012, when he was indicted on 17 federal charges of felony bank fraud, we stood by him. He honestly and effectively made his case that the feds were seriously overreaching.
Stunningly, on the eve of his trial in 2014, the feds dropped all the felony charges and Ford pled guilty to a misdemeanor tax charge that basically confirmed what he acknowledged, that he could have paid more attention to his bookkeeping during the years he worked as a realtor and house flipper on the West Side.
Now he says that frightening process made him intensely aware of the need for criminal justice reform, an issue he is ready to campaign on.
As we said, LaShawn Ford is a good man, smart and with some charisma. Someone is going to win this race.